HAVERHILL — It was Senior Day for Whittier yesterday afternoon, but it was a pair of juniors who had the biggest impact in helping the Wildcats get back on track.
Junior Jesus Sanchez rushed for 128 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the 1,000-yard mark for the season, and classmate Connor Bradley completed 7 of 9 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown as the Wildcats smothered Brighton, 44-18, to end a two-game losing streak.
That lifts the Wildcats to 6-4 heading into their Nov. 27 matchup at Greater Lawrence.
“This was a big win for us, especially for the seniors,” said Sanchez, who now has 1,029 yards and 12 TDs for the season. “The last couple of games were tough, but we wanted this. It’s going to give us confidence going into our last game.”
The game didn’t start well as Whittier kicked off short and Brighton returned the ball to the Whittier 25. The Bengals scored six plays later on a 4th-and-goal from the 12 when quarterback Jaylin Apperwhite eluded some careless tacklers and threw it into the end zone to Michael Dereus.
But Whittier turned the game around when Robby Granstorff intercepted the ensuing conversion pass and returned it 97 yards for two points.
The rest of the first half belonged to Whittier, which scored touchdowns on its first four possessions. Bradley followed runs of 23 and 31 yards by Sanchez with a three-yard TD run to get it going and then threw eight yards to Jaylin Deveau for a 16-6 lead. Scoring runs of 15 and 7 yards by Sanchez, the last one following an onsides kick, made it a commanding 32-6 at halftime.
Sanchez scored again in the third period to make it 38-6 and sophomore reserve Shane Mumbro got loose on a 52-yard run in the final frame. Brighton scored twice in the fourth period against the Whittier reserves.